Wildlife officials euthanize sea turtle hit by boat

LIHUE, Kauai — Wildlife officials have euthanized a green sea turtle that was hit by a vessel and stranded on Kauai.

The turtle suffered a spinal cord injury and a wound that exposed a large portion of its lungs.

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The 150-pound turtle was discovered at Mahaulepu Beach and taken to Oahu for examination Wednesday.

Initial hopes the turtle could survive its injuries and be rehabilitated were dashed after closer examination at the Veterinary Centers of America in Kaneohe.

Gregg Levine, a contract veterinarian for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who examined the turtle, said the severity of trauma to its shell and apparent spinal cord damage prompted the decision to euthanize the animal.

Levine said he has treated many of the 22 green sea turtles who have been hit by boat propellers or broadsided by boats, hydrofoils or other ocean vessels this year.

Most sea turtles struck by boats do not survive. This year only one turtle of the injured animals was sent to the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute for Rehabilitation.

“Whatever the outcome, far too many turtles are being struck by boats and other vessels,” said Ed Underwood of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

The division, in partnership with NOAA, conducts education and outreach to explain the consequences of boat accidents to Hawaii’s turtles.

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Many accidents between turtles and boats occur in relatively shallow waters in or near small-boat harbors and boat ramps, where speed limits and no-wake zones are in effect.

“We need everyone to slow down and pay attention,” Underwood said.

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